A picture can tell a thousand words. It can also help bring a criminal to justice. A group of Boston entrepreneurs know this and are trying to help. Six Boston startup founders have teamed up to create EvidenceUpload.org, a service that allows people to upload their photos from their smartphones to the FBI.
In the aftermath of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday, the FBI and Boston Police Department asked everybody that had pictures or video of the scene to send them along for analysis. If you are not familiar with the finish line to the Boston Marathon, it is where the crowds bottleneck at the end of the 26.2-mile race, waiting for their friends and loved ones to finish the grueling run. Copley Square and Back Bay in Boston see tens of thousands of people filter through, giving hugs and hi-fives, eating bananas, wearing the weird silver blankets that runners are given after finishing and, yes, taking thousands of pictures.
The Boston Police Department called the crime scene in the middle of Boylston Street the most complex in its history. Considering that Boston is 383 years old, that’s saying something. A government official called the finish line the most photographed area in the country on Monday afternoon when two bombs went off, killing three people and injuring more than 170.
If you are the FBI, that is a lot of pictures to process.
The problem is that the FBI only accepts pictures via email. If you were on Boylston on Monday and using your smartphone to take pictures, you should send them along to the FBI. Yet, when you email a picture, much of the pertinent information that your smartphone camera grabs from it is stripped away, such as the time stamp, GPS data and other critical metadata. Also, it can be cumbersome to upload dozens of photos through email to the FBI, which can drain your data plan and take a long time.
Nine people are contributing to the project: Nate Aune, Jonathan Baudanza, Jeremy Gailor, Riley Guerin, Jared Chung, Keith Donaldson, Michael Ernst and Steven Trevethan. The photos are being hosted by Filepicker.io.
The group issued this statement describing the service:
“EvidenceUpload.org lets a user painlessly up to 30 photos and videos from that day, and keep all of the metadata completely intact. EvidenceUpload will be making any images it received available to law enforcement. EvidenceUpload.org is not a business and does not charge or make money, it’s an endeavor by a group of Bostonians looking to lend their capabilities to help by tapping in to the great willingness to help of their fellow Bostonians. If you have potential evidence on your phone, camera, or computer, please use and share.”
Top image: Boston Harbor at dusk by Dan Rowinski